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Single Currency for West Africa Delayed

Jun 25, 2009, 3:54 AM

The West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) has announced in Abuja, Nigerian that the regions' proposed single currency ECO which was supposed to have been out by December this year is no longer feasible. WAMZ said that the ECO currency will be launched in 2015 with the establishment of the ECOWAS central Bank.

The WAMZ which comprises Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria and the Gambia agreed to adopt a single currency since 2000 following the Accra Declaration and the Bamako Accord whiles UEMOA was created in 1994 by Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Guinea-Bissau mostly French speaking countries.

Two member countries, namely Cape Verde and Liberia, do not belong to either WAMZ or UEMOA, although they are under intense pressure to join according to reports.

No reason was giving for the postponement of the ECO currency but economics experts suggested that the postponement is likely to be connected with the recent global economic crisis. WAMZ decision has been incorporated into the document "Decisions Relating to the Extension of the Transition Period for the Establishment of the West African Central Bank and matters connected therewith" according to This Day newspaper.

The new 2015 targeted date was adopted on Monday at the 24th meeting of the Convergence Council of Ministers and Governors of the WAMZ.

Speaking at the summit, Nigeria's President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua who also doubles as the current head of the region main body, ECOWAS said member's states should work hard to meet the new targeted date and avoid another postponement.

The Nigerian President who expressed disappointment said that "It is sad to note that 30 years after the signing of the Protocol on Free Movement of Goods and services, we are yet to significantly remove the bottlenecks at our borders, which continue to encumber effective economic integration.

The reality of the global economic situation today makes it critical for us to recommit to investing the relevant protocols with the requisite political will."

On a separate note member states and governments also pledged their commitment in ensuring a successful June 28th election in the "trouble" West African country of Guinea Bissau and the provision of $ 3.5 million to clear the arrears of salaries owed members of the country's armed forces, and another $350,000 to plug the funding gap for the elections.